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4.2 out of 5 stars
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4.2 out of 5 stars
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on 1 July 2013
i have looked into this book before and for the price i paid was a steal

turned up very quickly and in mint condition and the book itself is great although written 100's of years ago some lessons are just as relevant today, would greatly recommend this book and seller
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on 7 February 2013
An inspiring book filled with many inciteful anecdotes which are relevant to both the ancient Japanese times and also today. After watching the film Ghostdog I got the idea to buy this book. Worth every penny and if you are a student of Japanese martial arts or any other type for that matter, this book will help define your warrior spirit. Great stuff.
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on 6 July 2016
This version of the book is terrible in terms of quality. I wish that I had looked at it more closely before ordering it - the title alone gives an indication of the quality since the word "samurai" is spelled incorrectly. I read two paragraphs, spotted three of four typos, compared it to an online PDF version to double-check and then threw it in the bin. Money well spent.
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on 29 March 2002
I had been meaning to buy this book for a while, but know that I have finally gotten around to it; I wish I had done it sooner. When it arrived, I stared to flick though, just to get a fell for it, but I quickly found myself engrossed and read it cover to cover.
Within thirty pages, I had found more incite then it any five other books on matters of the mind and spirit combined, and I can say that by the time I was finish, I was a different person, in both my out look and attitude to life. I cannot recommend this book highly enough for anyone looking for a different way of thinking and looking at the world. Buy it know.
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on 5 May 2015
Those who cannot read archaic Japanese and classical Chinese cannot possibly give genuine review on this book nor capable to translate this complicated book. It is NOT a book about Bushi-Do. One needs to read this as one of the information written on the medieval Bushi's life and philosophy, not as a definite book on Bushi-do, The book got so underserving attention because the imperial Japanese government used one sentence from this book, 'Bushi-do to wa, Shinu koto to mitsuke tari, meaing, 'The essence of Bushido is to die".
This phrase was conveniently used to indoctrinate young conscripts to die for the nation. A war criminal like Hideki Tojo often encouraged young students and soldiers to die instead of being POW. The truth of the class A war criminal Tojo was, he wanted to live, so he faked suicide to get the Allied Tribunal give mercy to him.
People, Bushi-do is not to die. The translation is obviously wrong, taken from wrong text conventionally circulated. There are several versions, and one needs to be capable to read and write the archaic Japanese and Chinese (in which the original texts are written).
The true Bushi-do is to serve Justice and to live for the sake of upholding Justice. This is clearly shown, in the immortal movie Seven Samurai, and the writing of the most influential Bushi who preserved the true spirit of Bushi-do after the ruination of Japan, the Grand Master Masutatsu Oyama, who wrote many books on Bushi-do which unfortunately not translated into English.
Hagakure is a manual for surviving the static life of samurai after the unification of Japan, which samurai did not have to fight any more but peacefully served feudal lords. In original Hagakure, the advice regarding same-sex relationship was also given. To call Hagakure as a Bushi-do's bible is ignorance, and no one who read original would say that, except ignorant Tojo and his cronies who want the others die for them.
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on 15 March 2001
This classic samurai code of living is a essential addition to any collection alongside works on Bushido, the Art of War, The Book of Five Rings and for anybody interested in strategic game play from the office, to relationships to martial artists.
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on 8 October 2012
It seems to me that people are always looking for meaning and paths to follow, or the latest business fad and linkage to this culture or that civilization. Many in the west have been seduced by the 'samurai' and seek to replicate their way of life in order to bring some kind of gravity to their own lives. But its a fake and contrived meaning - an act. I don't need an ancient samurai to tell me how to work hard, or how to respect others, or how compose myself with dignity. All of this can be found within - so choose your own path, don't hang onto the coattails of others - whether ancient or current.

Back to book - there seems to be some opinion that it can provide relevant guidance in life and business today, or that study of it may deepen ones understanding of the martial arts.

Well, perhaps some of the ideas might well be relevant in broad terms - a good idea usually lasts the test of time, whoever said it. But personally I don't think anyone should obsess over it, as there is an equal amount that is completely irrelevant in modern western (and to some extent eastern) society. For example, there is much about the ritual of seppuku, also known as hara kiri where a samurai could restore or preserve their honour by taking their own life. This would be expected if they had shown, for example, cowardice in battle, or significantly neglected their duties.
If we were to adopt this approach, then I'm quite sure there would be no government left! In my opinion, this ideal is nonsensical - why should taking your own life clear you name of your misdeeds? Whilst the book perhaps places too much emphasis on this aspect of samurai culture, I still disagree fundamentally with the idea, which means much of the book is rather difficult to digest.

Whilst it is very interested to read about people who lived by these codes, and perhaps enviable that there existed such collective devotion to duty and honour, I feel this is (perhaps sadly) and anachronism these days. Personally, I hold my life dear and whilst I would give it up for my family, friends and comrades, I would not give it up for a boss who I thought would not do the same for me - whereas much of the samurai culture seems to border on almost blind obedience and a 'live to serve' philosophy. I'm sure the vast majority aren't looking to take the book this literally anyway!

So most of the 'adaptable' ideas are, in my opinion, more to do with general courteous behavior, moderation, hard work, and so on - but plenty of cultures promote such things, including our own.

So I suppose my message is - this book is fascinating reading for an insight into samurai philosophy, but don't get too caught up in the sentimentality of it and certainly don't be so naive as to think it can be applied literally in today's society - it will be very disheartening to try and live by the 'way of the samurai' only to find that nobody around is!

I think many people won't like my review because it takes away the fantasy. I don't have anything against the book as a historical text - in fact I read it often, but more out of interest and amusement rather than for advice or guidance.

You won't find the meaning of bushido or the way of the samurai by reading this book and certainly not by watching any films and so on.

I think if you wanted to find such meaning, then you must absolutely live for it.
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on 7 December 2011
What we have here is a collection of three hundred of the original thirteen hundred aphorisms and short anecdotes related by a retired samurai, Yamamoto Tsunetomo, to a young colleague in the early years of the 18th century. Hagakure (Hidden by the leaves) has no real structure and at times can be difficult to follow, but several recurring themes slowly emerge and by the end we can just about get an idea of the kind of man Yamamoto Tsunetomo was and the kind of code he lived by.

Hagakure is best read as a travelogue of the world, physical and mental, of a very focused and fanatical type of man rather than as an instruction manual for budding samurai. It is basically an explanation of what a samurai is (or was) and how he might become as good a samurai as possible. The first three chapters are by far the longest and it's in them that we find the bulk of the samurai philosophy. The remaining chapters are shorter and consist mainly of anecdotes about the exploits of members of the Nabeshima clan (the clan of Yamamoto's late master) and others.

Death seems to be Yamamoto's abiding obsession. This obsession is not with death generally but rather with dying honourably. To die without honour was, for the samurai, the ultimate horror. Throughout we have repeated mention of 'the way of the samurai' and it's quite difficult to get a clear understanding of what it means. However, Yamamoto is tellingly dismissive of intellectuals and their inevitable egotism ("If discrimination is long it will spoil") and is all for immediate action, so a reasonable familiarity with the fiendishly confusing school of Zen might come in handy ("There is nothing outside the thought of the immediate moment"), if only to better get into the mind-set of our sage.

The appeal of Hagakure will undoubtedly be limited. The book was popularised somewhat by Jim Jarmusch's 1999 film Ghost Dog - the Way of the Samurai, but that film, enjoyable as it is, doesn't really give a true idea of Hagakure and many an aspiring teen samurai who bought the book after watching the film probably gave up after a couple of pages.

Yet it's worth sticking with Hagakure because it's an interesting read for those curious about old Japan and the book does give some interesting insights into the fanatical and fatalistic lifestyle of the samurai and the austere philosophy that guided them. And if one reads between the lines there are also a few interesting ideas that we moderns could use to streamline our own psychological lives, though don't expect a complete and coherent philosophy here.
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on 3 May 2009
Hagakure is a truly exceptional book. It cuts straight and deep and finds the epitomy of the way of the Samurai.

In a truly masterful style Tsunetomo delivers food for thought and life values that properly digested, and with a bit of salt, can be of great use for your personal life or business.

I loved this book and suggest it both for the fans of Japanese culture, but also for those looking for insight in life deriving from the way of the Samurai.
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on 14 May 2014
Hagakure, or the way to die, will challenge you to consider what is loyalty and to what and whom should we be loyal to?

It is a dark yet beautifully sensitive book about an era where people took their oaths very much seriously.

Enjoy for yourself and ponder the loyalties you hold.
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